Wednesday, July 17, 2013

My Breastfeeding Journey: Try, try, again.

With my first son, I was planning on being a working mom, formula all the way. Never even tried to latch him. I would sit with towels packed around my leaking breast and feed him a bottle. It hurts me to think of that now.

With son #2, I actually attempted to nurse him, but being born 5 weeks early landed him in the NICU. They let me latch him, but were very pushy with the bottle. By the time he was home, he wanted nothing to do with my breasts.

Son #3 I put in much more effort, but I lacked confidence and skill. I had no idea how to latch such a tiny baby (5lb 4 oz) on my giant breasts (44L) and no one seemed to know how to help me. I decided to pump, but that was awful! I have no idea how ep moms do it! I gave up. Isaiah quickly grew and I really wanted to try to relactate, I was able to do so, but never got my supply up enough to put the formula away. At six months, I threw in the towel.

When I was pregnant with Kai I was DETERMINED to nurse this time. I researched and planned, but sadly those plans never got to happened. In the years that followed, with every loss, I was losing hope of ever being able to put a baby to my breast.

Bella's pregnancy was scary and even though I wanted to nurse, I wanted her healthy no matter what. Towards the end, when I finally started to believe that we were actually having a baby, I dug out my research and met with a lactation consultant. I WOULD nurse her. I delivered in a very breastfeeding supportive hospital. Within 15 minutes of her birth, she was set on my chest and allowed to nurse. I was over the moon.

But it wasn't easy or perfect! She REALLY loved to nurse, pretty much staying latched for the first 48 hours straight. Wonderful lactation consultants came and helped us find positions that were more comfortable and provided a better latch. At one point me sitting in a recliner next to the bed and her laying in the bed! We called it go go gadget boob. But after 48 hours, by nipples were SCREAMING, and I was crying/begging for a bottle. Thankfully the nurses refused and gently reminded me that I wanted to do this and I needed to stick it out. We saw a lactation consultant almost every day for the first two weeks. She assured me, that Bella was getting enough and I was doing the right thing. By weighing her before and after nursing I knew she was getting enough. And grow she did! She gained a pound a week in the beginning. I have struggled with almost constant clogged ducts and mastitis three times, until I finally discovered soy lecthin, which has helped a lot. If I even miss one dose, back to clogged up ducts. I have received so much support from my Le Leche League group and friends and know I couldn't have gone this long without them.

In the beginning I set the goal of 6 months, then a year, at last I decided to let Bella nurse until she self weaned. We are now at 21.5 months and counting! I never even imagined that we would be here, but I am thrilled. I don't see her ready to wean for quiet a while, since she is still a booby addict. For now, I am relishing in these moments, know all too soon, she will no longer need me.

To all the moms who for what ever reason where not able to nurse their 1st, 2nd, 3rd, or even more; it is possible! Don't give up.


Mary Mead said...

congratulations! you're doing a great job. so happy for you and Bella. what a great encouragement for other breastfeeding moms!

Ronda said...

That is awesome, I'm so glad breastfeeding worked for you and Bella! I nursed my daughter until she was 28 months, and my son until 33 months. You can keep going!

Amy Murphy said...

I love it! You and Bella are my encouragement. That the next baby will be at the boob and they will stay there until they are ready! But it won't be that Bella doesn't need you anymore :P She will always need her mama! This is a great post. Thank you for keeping it real

Christina Larsen said...

I love this post! Bella is a lucky baby to have such an amazing and determined mom!!